Light pollution, also known as photo pollution or luminous pollution, has an affect on more than 80% of the world’s population.
The large percentage of the world population, as revealed in the study, lives under light-polluted skies.
The research study was published in Science Advances.
The study revealed that the researchers employed ground measurements and satellite data to create an atlas of a world brightened by artificial lights.
The research study reveals that the population of Singapore, Kuwait and Qatar experienced the brightest night skies, whereas people living in Chad, Central African Republic and Madagascar are least affected by light pollution.
Dr Christopher Kyba, from the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam, said
“The artificial light in our environment is coming from a lot of different things.
“Street lights are a really important component, but we also have lights from our windows in our homes and businesses, from the headlights of our cars and illuminated billboards.”
The brightness map compiled by the researchers revealed that 83% of the world’s population lived under skies nearly 10% brighter than their natural starry state.
The map also revealed that 99% of Europeans and people in the US also lived under skies 10% brighter than the natural sky.
Dr. Kyba said that for certain populations, the artificial glow was even greater than this.
“About 14% of the world’s population don’t even use their night-time vision,” he explained.
“The night is so bright that they use their colour daytime vision to look up at the sky.”
For instance, the entire population of Singapore lives under an extreme level of artificial nighttime brightness.
The problem extends to many different parts of the world.
“Twenty percent of the people in Europe and 37% of the people in the US don’t use their night vision,” said Dr Kyba. “It’s really an enormous number.”
“In the UK, 26% of people are using colour vision and not night vision.”
Light pollution linked to sleep disorders and disease
The researchers said that nights that never get darker than twilight have an adverse effect on nocturnal animals.
In humans, this has been linked to sleep disorders and disease.
Dr Kyba said that the technology linked to artificial light needs to be improved. The paper suggested that lights can be shielded, dimmed or turned off while not being used, to reduce light pollution as well as save energy.
“There are a lot of street lights that are not particularly well designed,” he explained.
“They shine light into areas that are not useful – so up into the sky, for example, isn’t really useful for anybody.
“There’s a big difference between having a well-lit street, which means everybody can get around really easily and safely, and a brightly lit street, which could mean there’s too much light and it’s not helping anyone.”
The researchers add that light pollution is also an obstruction for a third of the world to view the Milky Way.